Lanzarote is the northernmost of the Canary Islands, lying off Africa’s mainland in the deep, blue Atlantic Ocean. The island is easy to get around—an effortless 90-minute drive from north to south—and basks in year-round sunshine, with magnificent beaches and spectacular natural landmarks to discover.
Arrecife, Lanzarote’s capital city, is a low-lying enclave with an attractive old quarter of whitewashed buildings, a palm-lined waterfront, and a handful of historical landmarks and museums.
Venture further afield, from the handsome Jardín de Cactus in Guatiza to the allure of Timanfaya National Park and the wine region of La Geria Valley, and you’ll find that Lanzarote attractions offer a wealth of memory-making experiences.
Discover the 12 best things to do in Lanzarote below.
Explore Timanfaya National Park
One of Spain’s 15 national parks, Lanzarote attractions don’t get more dramatic and otherworldly than Timanfaya in the island’s west. The rugged, ochre-hued landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that occurred between 1720 and 1736 and again in 1824.
The extraordinary geology of Timanfaya National Park has created a lunar-like appearance. Mostly void of vegetation, it’s filled with volcanic craters, curving rock formations, and rust-red mountain terrain that resembles sweeping dunes.
Begin your exploration of one of Spain’s most beautiful places at Timanfaya Visitors Center in Mancha Blanca, Tinajo, to get your bearings. You’ll find information on where geothermal demonstrations take place—eye-popping events that include a park ranger pouring water into a hole in the ground, only for it to emerge seconds later as a geyser.
One of the best things to do in Lanzarote is to weave through Timanfaya on one of the dedicated routes, with three to choose from. You could opt for a leisurely bus tour covering the circular Ruta de las Volcanes.
Two on-foot options include the Coastal Route, a self-guided and physically challenging five-and-a-half-mile trek, or the Tremesana Route, a breezy walk of two-and-a-half miles.
Timanfaya’s Montañas del Fuego, which translates as Fire Mountains, is the location of some of the national park’s most dramatic vistas. Dine at El Diablo restaurant in Islote de Hilario, where meat and vegetables are cooked in a theatrical style, using the earth’s volcanic heat.
Dive to Lanzarote’s Underwater Atlantic Museum
On the seabed near Marina Rubicon, Playa Blanca, on the southern tip of this Spanish island, is where you’ll find Lanzarote’s Atlantic Museum.
Made up of 10 concrete sculptures that are slowly being overtaken by sea life, by artist Jason deCaires Taylor, this captivating Lanzarote attraction opened in 2016 as Europe’s only underwater museum.
If you’re a certified 15 meter (just under 50 feet) diver—a level achieved with a basic one or two-day course—dipping below the water to study the eerie museum is one of the best things to do in Lanzarote.
Following a briefing at the museum’s dive center, you’ll be whisked by boat to the site before experiencing a 35- to 40-minute dive led by a guide.
Visitors can also enjoy Museo Atlántico without a dive certificate by enrolling in the five-hour beginners’ program, which involves basic training and a test dive from the shore before being transported to the dive site.
You’ll only be permitted to dive to a depth of 39 feet (the statues are at 49 feet), but you’ll still get a superb view from this vantage point.
Visit an Aloe Vera Farm
The cleverly named Lanzaloe is a vast aloe vera plantation producing face and body care products in the north of Lanzarote. Located in the handsome Órzola-Haría valley, Lanzaloe is home to magnificent aloe vera fields with shimmering ocean views.
Among the brilliant credentials of Lanzaloe, the products are not tested on animals, the farm is certified 100 percent organic, and the land is fiercely protected through ecological agriculture.
Join a tour to learn about the cultivation process and understand why Lanzarote is the perfect growing ground for this natural skin remedy. Tours are available year-round.
With an onsite gift shop, Lanzaloe products are among the best souvenirs to buy in Lanzarote, including luxurious body oil, replenishing moisturizer, and anti-aging eye cream.
Bathe on Playa del Papagayo
Playa del Papagayo in Playa Blanca is a patch of paradise, just off the beaten track, on Lanzarote’s scintillating southern tip. This gorgeous horseshoe-shaped beach offers crystal-clear, emerald-green water that is incredibly still and perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Pack a towel and sunscreen and follow the path down to the beach from the clifftop. There are few facilities on Playa del Papagayo. However, there is a chic restaurant, Be Papagayo, boasting a delightful space where yoga sessions and brunch are as popular as sundowners and indulgent suppers.
Go for the punchy organic tomato salad and a fresh tuna tartare, saving room for the refreshing Hilario fig with pepper ice cream to finish.
Wander Arrecife’s Old Quarter
Lanzarote attractions in the capital, Arrecife, are centered around the quaint old quarter, San Ginés, next to the shimmering waters of the saltwater San Ginés lagoon. One of the best things to do in Lanzarote is to wander the charming streets of this former fishing neighborhood.
San Ginés is filled with pretty whitewashed buildings featuring bright turquoise doors and window frames that match the color of the lagoon. Stroll to Plaza de las Palmas, where the 17th-century Church of Saint Ginés lies, dedicated to Arrecife’s patron saint, Genesius.
Every Wednesday and Thursday, the area around the Church of Saint Ginés fills with market traders selling an array of arts and crafts, including leather goods, art, and jewelry. Browse the items on offer and stop for a coffee or bite to eat before enjoying a walk along the palm tree-lined promenade.
Spot Colorful Marine Life
Among the myriad marine creatures in the waters around Lanzarote are 259 species of fish and six of the world’s seven species of turtles. There’s more; the Canaries are considered one of the best places on the planet to spot whales and dolphins.
To be in with a chance of witnessing a variety of permanent and migrating whales and dolphins, head to Puerto Calero Marina, an easy 20-minute drive from Arrecife on the south coast, to join a dedicated tour.
A boat trip offers the chance to spot up to 10 varieties of whales, including humpback, sperm, and fin, and eight types of dolphins, such as common, bottlenose, and orca. Look out for sharks with blue and hammerhead fins sometimes spotted slicing through the water.
Marvel at Janubio Salt Flats
On Lanzarote’s southwest coast, in the town of La Hoya, Janubio Salt Flats lie roughly five miles north of the resort of Playa Blanca.
Opened in 1895, the salt flats are set around a natural lagoon formed due to the island’s 1730 volcanic eruption. The Atlantic waters from the lagoon evaporate to create mountains of dazzling white salt that has a deep, marine flavor.
Join a 90-minute guided tour of Lanzarote’s remarkable salt flats. Tours typically take place three times per day (Monday to Friday) before finishing with a tasting of the Fleur de sel and Flavors of Janubio varieties.
Wear light and comfortable clothing for the tour and skip over to the black sands of Janubio Beach for a reviving dip in the ocean after. There’s also a restaurant, Mirador de las Salinas, serving fresh dishes, such as grilled octopus, traditional paella, and local cheese.
Admire the Jardín de Cactus
Situated in the peaceful village of Guatiza, roughly a 20-minute drive north of Arrecife, Lanzarote’s Jardín de Cactus is a magical destination filled with thousands of cactus plants. Adding to the breathtaking landscape of Jardín de Cactus is a white windmill with giant sails.
Jardín de Cactus was designed by celebrated local architect César Manrique. His vision transformed this former quarry into magical gardens—home to the largest prickly pear plantation on the island.
Explore the many weird and wonderful cacti in various shapes, sizes, and colors. There are around 4,500 plants from 450 different cactus species from around the world to admire.
Visit the garden cafe, where you’ll find a selection of sheltered outdoor seating where you can relish a cooling juice. Order an island favorite—spicy, salted potatoes with mojo sauce and cheeses served with prickly pear jams, and washed down with a glass of local wine—to enjoy while soaking up the glorious sunshine and panoramic garden views.
Witness Los Hervideros
One of the many draws to Lanzarote’s famous southwest coast is Los Hervideros, where wild Atlantic waves lash at the jaw-dropping volcanic cliff formations. Los Hervideros lies above the town of La Hoya and immediately below the gorgeous Playa de Montaña Bermeja, a mere 30-minute drive from Arrecife.
Los Hervideros is home to a labyrinth of eroding underwater lava caves. Stroll around the series of pathways that trace this coastal stretch. In contrast to the sapphire-blue ocean, the land here is a deep charcoal color, strewn with hulking boulders and rock formations.
After witnessing Los Hervideros, stop by the town of Yaiza, a short drive away, where tall, skinny palm trees tower over chalk-white traditional buildings. Here, you’ll find a cluster of easy-going restaurants offering up local Canarian flavors, including Guachinche el Cariñoso, La Bodega de Santiago, and Bodega Uga.
Tour Casa de César Manrique in Haría
The highway to Haría—a harmonious hilltop village in Lanzarote’s north—is lined with lush palm trees, setting the scene for your arrival in one of the most picturesque spots on the remote island.
Casa Museo de César Manrique—located within a lush palm grove and now a museum—is one of the best things to do in Lanzarote. It was the modernist residence of artist and architect César Manrique up until his death in 1992, and today, you can step inside his preserved former artist studio.
Tread through the exquisite gardens and gaze at some of Manrique’s unfinished works before enjoying a stroll around Haría. Cafes, restaurants, and boutiques lie in the village center, and a weekly craft market is held every Saturday in Plaza León y Castillo.
Step Inside the Jameos del Agua
Possibly César Manrique’s most famous legacy, the Jameos del Agua, located in the northeast of the island, is a curious combination of natural beauty and man-made genius.
The formation is actually a massive lava tube, created 5,000 years ago and still connected to the Atlantic. Inside the cavern, there’s an astonishingly deep blue lake inhabited by a rare species of blind albino crab normally only found deep in the ocean.
Manrique designed terraces, bars, an aquamarine pool, and restaurants around the cave’s fern-draped mouth, and created a 600-seat auditorium inside, taking advantage of the superb acoustics.
Concerts are held here in summer, but even if you don’t attend one, you can see inside the cave and stop for a drink and a snack in this unusual and serene setting.
Imbibe in La Geria Valley Wine Region
La Geria Valley in the island’s southwest is Lanzarote’s bodega-filled wine region. One of the best things to do in Lanzarote is to embark on a tour and tasting of La Geria’s vineyards.
Nestled in 20 square miles of Lanzarote’s bleak volcanic landscape, La Geria produces most of the island’s wines from one of the oldest grape varieties: Malvasía.
You could sample a range of wines during a tour and tastings, including white, red, or rosé wines, ranging from sweet to extra dry. Imbibe at El Grifo, Lanzarote’s oldest winery—and one of the oldest in Spain—that has been cultivating and harvesting grapes since 1777.
There’s a fascinating museum at El Grifo, which tells the story of Lanzarote and the Canary Islands’ wine history. Enjoy a guided walk through the estates of Bodega La Geria, another historic vineyard, and the nearby Bodega Suarez, which are excellent spots to savor delicious local wines.
Pick out one of your favorite bottles to take home as a gift, or keep it for yourself as a sweet reminder of your Canary Islands vacation.
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